David Simpson

Here are the principles & process behind my approach to building successful product experiences.

Reaching the new generation of connected audiences doesn’t just happen. Companies large and small don’t just stumble into a product design process—design must be intentional. It is imperative that companies build design into their strategies from the outset as it allows them to focus on core principles and processes. It allows them to build the best possible products, as efficiently as possible within product organizations. There is no single process that works universally, I've iterated my process based on what I've seen work, refining it over the years. This page exposes the thought behind my process and showcases one of the most important elements in it — iteration.

My Design Principles

Don’t you hate when people or companies post their mission statement? Sure, it might be important internally, but the whole world doesn’t need to know about it. I see design principles as something entirely different from a mission statement. These principals clearly define how I approach every product design project I have the opportunity to work on. As times goes on, I’ll likely tweak these as I go, but these work pretty well for me for now.

Here are the principles that guide my thought process:

Design Must Solve Problems

The internet is part of our everyday life, so the usability and experience of how users are able interact with it are key. Simplicity helps to remove the distraction of clutter and noise, resulting in a better user experience for your end users.

Always be Iterating

Every product design product is a living, breathing organism. It is imperative to always track your data to identify pain points, and then use that data to improve the design and user experience for the users you serve every day.

Patience with Persistence

Building a product takes a team, with that comes the responsibility to patiently listen to all the stakeholders in the room. However, that patient and empathetic ear doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be persistent about solving for the user.

Listen to the User

Even the most elegant design does not guarantee it is going to meet the needs of the people who use your product. It is critical to listen and gather feedback from users to drive data-driven decisions in the design process.

My Design Process

In simple terms, a design process is really just a process of thinking to solve problems. Over the years, I have been incredibly fortunate to work with many different companies building amazing websites and products. During this time, I've seen companies of all different sizes and structures, with many different moving parts for how Product, Engineering, and Design come together.

With that, I've learned there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes do a design process, but here are some of the foundational steps to what I feel gives a product the best chance of succeeding.

Discover

Research
COLLECT INFORMATION
  • User Insights (interviews)
  • Focus Groups
  • Proto-personas
  • Embedded Personas
Audit
ANALYZE
  • Benchmark performance
  • Identification of best practices
  • User needs
  • Definition of use cases
  • Set measurable success metrics

Define

Information Architecture
CONTENT STRUCTURE
  • Content Taxonomy
  • Domain Model
  • Journey Mapping
  • Navigation Schema

Design

Prototyping
CONSTRUCTING EXPERIENCE
  • Paper prototypes
  • Balsamiq concepts
  • Low-fidelity Sketch templates
Usability Testing
ITERATION & FEEDBACK
  • Design testing protocols
  • Open & closed card sorts
  • Usability testing
  • A/B testing

Deliver

Visual Details
FIT & FINISH
  • High fidelity assets
  • Invision Prototypes
  • Final Checkoff
Specifications
FUNCTION & ASSETS
  • Functional Specs
  • Design System Review
  • Zeplin Exports
  • Front-end Structure

My Design Toolkit

For a long time, there was a pretty small base of tools that designers had at their disposal. Over the past few years that has changed dramatically, there is now a large list of new and exciting tools & resources that designers have at their fingertips. The pace at which new ideas sprout up is really exciting, I can't wait to see where we are in five years!

Over time I have tried and used most of them, and while I use more than what is listed below, these are some of the key tools I have chosen to use in my current day-to-day life (Sorry, not sorry, Adobe). I love hearing about all the new latest-and-greatest solutions out there, so please don't hesitate to shoot me a recommendation!

iPad and Pencil

So, this is newer territory for me. I don't have a fine arts background, and hand sketching has always been tough for me. In the last year, with how fast design moves and with having team members across multiple offices, it has been fun to learn how best to wield an Apple Pencil to sketch away on my iPad Pro. And hey, the easy ability to share is awesome.

Balsamiq

This app (and many other simple wireframe apps) doesn't get enough credit. With the demanding pace of technology companies of today, we sometimes forget how quickly and easily we can work up a quick solution here before worrying about the look and feel of a final solution.

Sketch

Sketch isn't perfect, but the makers are still moving the needle and far surpassing any improvement work that Adobe has put forth. Sketch is no doubt tailored to the product design (UX & UI) industry, the tools and functions continue to improve and add improved efficiency with every update.

Invision

A new era of rapid interactive prototypes became a reality with little to no code in the last few years. Invision is one of the industry pioneers in this arena, it is incredibly powerful to have a systematic approach to get designs straight from Sketch to a browser.

They also introduced a Sketch plugin, Craft, that powers a number of other really useful designer needs. In my opinion, the most notable tool, Library, for sharing design system assets across a team is awesome. Can't wait to see this improve.

Realtime Board

Online web whiteboards are a big part of the future of scalable, distributed design teams. Realtime Board is a hidden gem with an incredibly powerful feature set of collaboration tools to bring designers together.

It is packed with familiar layouts. You can pick from their hand-crafted templates to get a head start on any task: brainstorming sessions, card sorts, customer journey or user story maps, agile boards, retrospectives and many more.

The end

Looking for more information?

Are you interested to learn more about me, or work on a new fantastic product together? Don't hesitate to reach out soon so we can chat!

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I’ve gone on a bit of a conquest, to acquire the username "simpson" on every popular social network. The journey hasn't been easy, but i'm almost there!